While John Moses Browning crafted the original basic design, Dieudonne Saive of Fabrique
National (FN), Herstal, Belgium is credited with completing the design that became the now famous
9mm (Browning) Hi Power. The name Hi Power was assigned to this pistol due to its 13 round
magazine capacity. Production of the Belgium made 9mm Browning High Power began in 1935. It
was as a result of being produced in 1935, that the Hi Power also became known as the P35.
During World War II, variants of the 9mm Hi Power were the only sidearm that I can think of,
that were manufactured by both the Allies and the Axis Powers, specifically by the Canadians and the
Germans. The Canadians produced two variants of the “Inglis” Hi Power and the Germans oversaw the
production of the original Belgium made P35. The wartime copy that I once owned, that had Nazi
proof markings, was made later on in the war and was by no means manufactured with the same quality
control standards as the Belgium pistols. After World War II, the widespread popularity of the P35
resulted in licensed and unlicensed copies of the Hi Power being manufactured in a number of
countries. Belgium made Hi Powers were also purchased by a number of countries for use by their
military and police personnel. Production of the Browning Hi Power ended in 2018.
SPRINGFIELD ARMORY TO THE RESCUE
As of November 2021, you can own an improved version of the original Belgium Browning
9mm Hi Power, by purchasing the Springfield Armory SA-35. Before we get into describing the
Springfield Armory SA-35, let me say that I have been a huge fan of 9mm Hi Power pistols, ever since
the early years of my law enforcement career. In fact, I was probably one of the few members of the
U.S. Customs Service who was actually issued a Belgium made 9mm Browning Hi Power. One of the
most famous foreign end users of the 9mm Hi Power was the British SAS. (The British Hi Power was
designated the L9A1.)
During my career as a U.S. Customs Agent I also owned a pair of 9mm MK III Hi Powers. The
MK III Hi Power was an improved design, that was ideally suited for law enforcement applications and
concealed carry, because this pistol was fitted with higher visibility fixed sights, very well designed
slide mounted dual safety levers and composite grip panels. The MK III High Power also had a very
utilitarian black epoxy/paint like finish that was corrosive resistant. The MK III Hi Powers were made
in Belgium and assembled in Portugal.
Despite the age of this design, I always found the Hi Power to be an exceptionally reliable and
very accurate high capacity 9mm pistol, that has excellent ergonomics. Best yet, for a full size all steel
high capacity service pistol, the Hi Power is also sleek and slim enough to be carried concealed.
The day I received the SA-35 to test and evaluate it took a matter of seconds for me to see, that
Springfield Armory did an outstanding job of manufacturing a high capacity 9mm pistol, that improved
on the original Belgium/FN design. I reacted this way for several reasons, to include the fact that the
SA-35 is equipped with a very user friendly set of high visibility fixed sights. The SA-35 sights are a
well executed “tactical” design, due to the use of an easy to acquire white front dot, that is positioned in
a suitably elevated dovetailed front sight post. The rear sight is also very “high speed,” with a flat front
surface, that makes it possible to execute a one handed tactical reload. This can be accomplished by
removing the empty magazine, inserting a loaded magazine into the magazine well, before placing the
front flat portion of the rear sight against a rigid flat surface and applying enough downward force to
cycle the slide and load the chamber. The portion of the rear sight that faces the shooter is all black and
has a very open U shaped aperture, that presents an excellent view of the front sight and your target. A
well designed thumb safety is also positioned on the left rear side of the slide. Clearly, the safety on the
SA-35 is noticeable improvement over the original Hi Power safety.
The SA-35 is also equipped with a “bobbed” or round hammer, as opposed to the more standard
or traditional hammer spur. This is an interesting feature, because the “bobbed” or serrated round
hammer can prevent some end users from having the extended spur on a traditional hammer impact the
web of their hand under firing conditions. This is commonly known as “hammer bite.” A bobbed or
round hammer is also often preferred by some end users, when they carried a Single Action (S/A) pistol
like a Hi Power, concealed and close to their body.
Just like the Belgium made Browning Hi Power, the slide on the SA-35 is also very easy to
manually cycle. This is an important point, because being able to easily operate the slide on a pistol
that is used for personal protection and home defense is essential for your survival.
Unlike the original Browning Hi Power, the SA-35 does not have a magazine disconnect. This
means that the SA-35 can be fired when a round is in the chamber but no magazine is in the pistol.
Should you ever find yourself in a situation when you are compelled to execute a tactical reload, you
will still be able to fire your SA-35 should the need arise, while you eject the magazine and reload the
pistol with a full or partially loaded magazine. The lack of a magazine disconnect also allows the
operator to easily eject magazines from the SA-35. Speaking of magazines, the SA-35 comes with one
15 round magazine and will reliably operate with original 13 round Hi Power magazines, including
original Parkerized magazines, as well as the superbly made blue steel MecGar magazines.
The SA-35 is manufactured with a match grade stainless steel barrel, a fully forged and heat
treated CNC machined frame and slide, all of which serves to enhance the strength, ruggedness and
durability of the design. The SA-35 is also fitted with a super smooth factory tuned Single Action
Trigger, an improved feed ramp design and an excellent set of checkered wooden grips. The metal
parts on the SA-35 are finished in Matte Blue. The overall fit and finish on the SA-35 is superb and
clearly classifies this pistol as a very high quality premium brand combat handgun.
An assortment of premium brand 124 and 147 grain 9mm full metal jacket and hollow-point
ammunition made by Federal and Speer was used while field testing the SA-35. In addition to
engaging a metal plate the size of the scoring area on a TQ19 law enforcement qualification target, the
SA-35 was also used to engage a paper target at various distances.
Regardless of the ammunition used, the SA-35 was flawlessly reliable, even when this pistol
was operated with Parkerized 13 round Hi Power magazines, that were manufactured in the dark ages
of the 20th Century. The 13 round blue steel MecGar magazines also worked well in the SA-35, as did
the factory supplied 15 round magazine.
Original Belgium made Hi Powers are notorious for being very soft shooting 9mm pistols. The
SA-35 retains this quality in every respect. Incorporating a match grade barrel and a factory tuned
trigger in the design of the SA-35, is also evident by the ease in which this pistol is capable of
consistently delivering precision shot placement.
While evaluating the SA-35, I utilized two different black leather De Santis Inside the Pants
Holsters, that I have also used to carry my Belgium made Hi Powers. I also own a De Santis Thumb
Break Paddle Holster, that accommodates my Belgium Hi Powers and the SA-35. Spare ammunition
for the SA-35 was transported and carried in De Santis (leather) Magazine Pouches. For concealed
carry applications and home defense I consistently rely on 124 grain 9mm Federal HST, 147 grain
Federal HST and 124 grain 9mm Speer Gold Dot ammunition.
The Springfield Armory SA-35 is a premium brand pistol, that is a tribute to the work that was
originally done by John Moses Browning and Dieudonne Saive of Fabrique National (FN). Even
though I currently own two 9mm Hi Powers, I was so impressed by the fit, finish and the performance
of the SA-35, I purchased the test pistol.
Trigger: Single Action
Hammer: Bobbed/Serrated Round.
Unloaded Weight: 32 ounces.
Barrel: Cold Hammer Forged.
Barrel Length: 4 5/8 inches.
Overall Length: 7.8 inches.
Magazine Capacity: 15 rounds.
(will also accept original 10 and 13 round Hi Power magazines)
Construction: All Steel/Forged & Heat Treated/CNC Machined.
Finish: Matte Blue.
Barrel: Match grade/stainless construction.
Sights: While dot front,
Rear: Flat front/tactical style with a U shaped rear sight.
Grips: Wood/Checkered Walnut.
Nick Jacobellis is a Medically Retired U.S. Customs Agent and a former NY police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent. To date, the author has published over 205 magazine articles and nine action-packed nonfiction, historical fiction, and fiction books: Controlled Delivery Books One and Two, The Frontline Fugitives Books I, II, III, and IV, Buck Banderas U.S. Marshal Books One and Two and A Special Kind of Hero. These books have received 5 Star reviews and are available on Amazon.com (US), and (UK). The K9 Academy is the author’s 10th book. The author was born and raised in Flatbush section of Brooklyn N.Y. and has an BS Degree in Police Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.